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but so will elementary schools in Lake Crystal, St. Clair and Maple River, D'Angelo said. Once schools are added to the distribution list, they remain, D'Angelo said. The program is committed to serving all 1,200 children and achieving sustainability.

"It's just like adults," Olson said. When we become hungry, it gets difficult to focus on what we're doing . It's the same for kids."By the time the program is fully implemented, not only will every elementary school in Mankato be a partner, Air Force 1 Flyknit Size

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As the program grows, so will the number of volunteers and volunteer hours needed to pack food for the kids, Swanson said. Temporarily housed in Suite C of 2120 Howard Drive in North Mankato, the whole operation will move around the corner to Suites E and F of the building later this year.

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high and 788 high school students in Mankato Public Schools qualify for free or reduced lunches. Those same students may likely not have consistent access to food on the weekends.

"It's helping kids get a basic need met," Olson said. "When you think about the time that elapses from Friday to Monday morning when school starts and lunchtime, which is midday, that's a lot of time."

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"We're adding three more schools," said Nicole Swanson, the program's manager. "Roosevelt, Garfield and Eagle Lake."

A "grassroots" effort, the program operates out of a concrete box of a building filled with boxes. Five staff members work part time to oversee it. Food is packed up during weekly volunteer sessions, which can last for several hours.

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Travis Olson, principal of Franklin Elementary, said the backpack program has a positive impact on students and families who need a little help providing meals for their kids.

Swanson said feeding hungry children helps ensure they will do well in school. Studies show that children who do not eat tend to have lower math scores, are twice as likely to repeat a grade and three times as likely to be suspended from school. They are also more likely to have health problems.

"It's going to be kids that are in your schools," Swanson said. "It's going to be kids on your block. It's your friend's children. You'd be surprised."

"It's a climb and a jump we have to make, but we do it in a way where we take on a new school when we're ready for them and ready to commit to them," D'Angelo said.

Rumbling stomach not only distract kids from their studies but make it hard to have fun making friends and being social, Olson said. The weekend food program helps prevent kids from feeling deprived.

The program, operated byFeeding Our Communities Partners, now serves about 610 children between six elementary schools: Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Kennedy, Rosa Parks and Monroe. With the addition of the new schools, Swanson projects it will serve about 760.

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Mankato BackPack Food Program continues to expand

Funded by grants and community donations, the BackPack food program provides a weekend's Air Force Ones Blue worth of food to hungry school children. Packs of food containing breakfast, lunch and a snack for each day of the weekend or school break are given to the students' teachers every Thursday to be discreetly placed in children's backpacks come Friday.

The bigger space will allow staff to set up multiple assembly lines and pack more food more quickly, Swanson said. White Nike Air Force Shoes

Once the shift is made, she estimates the program will need 60 volunteers versus its current 50. Community donations will be needed to pay for costs of the new facility.

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The program was started in response to a pressing need, D'Angelo said. About 7,830 people in Blue Earth County aren't always sure where their next meal will come from, according to Feeding America. About 2,010 of them are children.

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In Mankato Public Schools alone, about 1,703 elementary, 401 junior Nike Air Force Glitter

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